The Haussmann Style is the distinctive sign of Parisian architecture. It is the emblem of the city. How do we recognize it ?

Haussmann style

Emblematic and historic

When we talk about Parisian architecture, the term “Haussmannian” immediately comes to mind. But if everyone knows the word, the criteria that define a typical building from the period of Baron Haussmann are less well known. Emblematic and historic, the Haussmann architectural style is one of the most sumptuous and envied by the French. Established in Paris during a major sanitation operation in the city in 1853, the Haussmann style has its own architectural characteristics.

Haussmann style
Haussmann style
Haussmann style
view on the eiffel tower

A cleaner, brighter and more welcoming city

Today, 60% of Parisian buildings are Haussmann style. And for good reason, in the middle of the 19th century Baron Haussmann transformed Paris into a cleaner, brighter and more welcoming city. In addition, Baron Haussmann wanted to establish a policy facilitating the flow of flows, both of population, of goods and of air and water. Thus, by transforming the majority of its buildings, integrating parks and gardens in each arrondissement and enlarging traffic routes, Paris has become a healthier and richer city. In 1870, following the transformations carried out by Baron Eugène Haussmann, the quality of life in Paris greatly improved. Thus, the cholera epidemic disappeared and the overall hygiene of the city improved. The traffic of the city has also become more fluid thanks to the width of its avenues. Finally, the new buildings are better built and much more functional than the old ones.

Haussmann style

The Haussmann style is easily recognizable

Unlike some architectural styles, the Haussmann style is easily recognizable. Indeed, its sublime cut stone facades sculpted with linear precision mark the main characteristic of this style. The facade is the essential element of the Haussmann style. Private buildings must respect the same height as well as the same main facade lines to form a single architectural ensemble. The height, varying from 12 to 20 meters, must be proportional to the width of the road, without ever exceeding 6 floors.

Haussmann style

Photographs by Elisabeth Perotin, available for sale here :

Aesthetic gradation of buildings is parallel to the social gradation

The Haussmann-style facade is built in cut stone (a noble material). The typical building is composed as follows :

High-ceilinged ground floor that can house shops with a first floor – called the “entresol” – for housing shops or storing goods (no shops in high-class buildings). These two levels are most often striated horizontally.
“Noble” second floor, with balconies and richer window frames. Why is the second floor the “noble”? Because at that time the civil lift did not yet exist. This therefore prevented the richest from exhausting themselves with the heavy task of climbing stairs…
More traditional third and fourth floors, with less rich window frames. Individual balconies may have appeared at the end of the Haussmann period following new regulations.
Fifth floor with long balcony. A floor that is not “noble”, but has a balcony for the sake of balance in the aesthetics of the facade.
• Top floor serving as attics or service apartments.
Finally, it should be noted that, in the Haussmann style, the aesthetic gradation of buildings is parallel to the social gradation. This is why the higher you go upstairs, the more sober the decorations and the lower the ceiling heights.

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